Carlos Slim, Bill Gates and Mexican dignitaries visit CIMMYT to inaugurate Bioscience facilities

Bill Gates, Sara Boettiger, Carlos Slim and Tom Lumpkin opening the new advanced laboratories at CIMMYT in Mexico, funded by the Carlos Slim FoundationToday, CIMMYT inaugurated a new US$ 25 million research complex at its headquarters in El Batan. The new advanced bioscience research facilities, 45 kilometers (20 miles) from Mexico City, marked its grand opening to a crowd of more than 100 invited guests.

The event was attended by Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Lic. Enrique Martínez y Martínez, Mexican Secretary of Agriculture and leader of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), and Dr. Eruviel Ávila Villegas, Governor of the State of Mexico.

The new bioscience complex will allow researchers to speed the development of valuable seed, by way of more precise characterization of its genetic traits, such as heat and drought tolerance, disease and pest resistance, and seed health, as well as the nutritional and industrial quality of the grain. CIMMYT was the cradle of the Green Revolution 60 years ago. By providing cutting-edge facilities and an enhanced research capacity, this alliance will significantly improve farm productivity.

“We are enthusiastic about this alliance,” said Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Bringing together the collective experience of our respective organizations, we can promote innovation to transform the lives of farmers in Mexico and around the world. Investing in agricultural development is one of the most effective investments we can make. It allows farming communities to become self-sufficient and prosperous by growing and selling more of what they produce.”

The new Bioscience complex will speed farmers access to the benefits of cutting-edge scienceCarlos Slim added: “This alliance to promote research and development by CIMMYT, with the collaboration of national and international scientists dedicated to improved seed and generating more efficient techniques, is a step toward making this knowledge available to farmers everywhere, particularly small- and intermediate-scale farmers, as well as promoting economic growth, employment, and food self-sufficiency and exports from this sector.”

Both the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carlos Slim Foundation have been generous supporters of CIMMYT's mission. The buildings inaugurated today are the result of the Carlos Slim Foundation's investment in CIMMYT. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partners with CIMMYT in projects to fight hunger around the world. The impact of the commitment made today by both foundations will be felt beyond Mexico’s borders.

“We will see the introduction of modern and more sustainable farming practices,” said CIMMYT Director General Thomas A. Lumpkin. “These include precision and conservation agriculture, backed by intelligent mobile phone services in farmers’ fields and digital tools in labs that will open our access to the full genetic diversity of maize and wheat to benefit the world’s poorest farming communities.”

Speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mr. Gates spoke of the importance of CIMMYT’s role in agricultural research and development: “When you ask where the best work is done for poor farmers, the answer is here, at CIMMYT.”

February 13, 2013

See also blog posting by Dr. Thomas A. Lumpkin